"Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me”
A black President spoke on race and it was as powerful and personal a speech as President Obama has ever given.
More important, it was a speech that had to be given in the wake of the Zimmerman trial that has left Americans polarized on the not guilty verdict.
It was an attempt to make white Americans sensitive to the fact that black experience and history drives the way in which African-Americans interpret the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.
I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.
On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “Stand Your Ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk and of been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car and on foot?
And do we actually think that he would have he felt threatened?
And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
Video Below. Transcript Here.